SFCB: Lee why don't you introduce yourself to those out there who are reading this and are just now hearing about you for the first time.
LEE CAMP: I am a comedian and activist from Virginia and New York (about 13 years in both). I have been doing stand-up comedy for about 16 years. I'm creator of the web series "Moment of Clarity" and now the host and head writer of "Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp" on RT America.
SFCB: Was there a certain point in your career that it hit you that "Hey...this shit might just work."? Was it a specific person you looked up to that took you aside and gave you some good feedback, or was it getting a specific gig, at what point did you feel that while you might not have "made it" at that point, that you had faith that it was going to work out.
LEE CAMP: I'm still not sure it's going to work out. HA! I mean, it's interesting that no matter what point you get to in a career like this, you always think, "Man, if I can just get to that next step." I'm sure most comedians would say the same. But as Seinfeld said, each show (or performance) is like a breath of air - it keeps you going to the next one and that's all you're thinking about. But back to your question - I certainly did have encouragement that helped a lot. Very early on Jimmy Fallon let me open for him when I was still in college. That gave me a big boost. Darrell Hammond then let me open for him and flew me out to meet his managers in LA. To me, that made it feel like "Wow, I've ALREADY made it."
But of course that was just the beginning of a very long journey - one in which I found that traditional "Hollywood" has no interest in unknown political comics. Sure, they'll fawn over Jon Stewart but they're not grabbing the kid off a small stage and saying "Please, come rant about egregious income inequality on our TV show!" Later, I had great support from Paul Provenza. And even more recently I've had support from George Carlin's daughter Kelly and Bill Hicks's brother Steve. Steve listed me as one of three comedians with Bill's passion and message. It totally blew me away, and those type of things definitely help when I've decided to spend a weekend beating up on myself.
SFCB: You have had a very interesting evolution from doing your Moment of Clarity videos on Youtube to now having your own show, "Redacted Tonight". Talk about Redacted Tonight and how it differs from any of the other news shows that are out there.
LEE CAMP: Well, it definitely differs from other news shows in about every way. First of all - it's comedy. Secondly, I try to go after all the stories that are not being covered on the mainstream media, or at least show you the side of it that's being ignored. We're kinda like the "censored" comedy news show. I also throw in a healthy dose of protest coverage. I want viewers to realize that there are people standing up around the globe right now. Those of us who realize this system is corrupt and exploiting every last resource are fighting back. We also differ from other shows in that all of our content is also online. It's all free at the Official Redacted Tonight Youtube Channel.
SFCB: I'm always looking for news sites to read up about the topics of the day, but I find that more and more of these "news" sites are simply either corporate owned/dictated propaganda, or it's this unprofessional gossipy opinion stuff that's heavily relying on snark and misleading headlines and unflattering pictures of those they disagree with. Snark is great, of course, but I think when the ratio of information starts leaning heavier towards the tabloidy than the news and real reporting, it's a problem.
What are the news sites out there that you regularly read to not only bring you the news that is actually happening, but does so in a responsible way?
LEE CAMP: Well, I don't want to act like any site is perfect, but I get a lot of my news from Popular Resistence, Democracy Now, The Real News Network, Alternet, Acronym TV, and "Breaking The Set with Abby Martin"
SFCB: As someone who is fairly cynical and pessimistic about things, I find it very difficult to look at the way our political system is going, and have any hope that things are going to work out in a good way. THE Congress (I can't really say OUR Congress, because they don't work for us, although they are supposed to) is so dead set on opposing anything remotely productive as it stands, and now with Republicans having taken the Senate, which gives them both houses against the President, please talk me down from the ledge, Lee, and explain to me how this country is not well and truly fucked beyond repair?
LEE CAMP: I think in its current state it is fucked beyond repair, but not quite for the reasons you give. Sure, the Republicans block a lot of stuff, but look at the areas the Democrats and Republicans agree on - endless war, NDAA, the largest surveillance system ever on our own people, assault on journalists, assault on whistleblowers, ignoring climate change (or doing nothing about it), and letting Wall Street run wild. All those things are on both sides of the aisle. This is not a Dem v. GOP issue. This is a 99.9% of America v. THEM issue. The two corporate parties can't solve our problems. They don't know how. They only know profit.
Even something like Obamacare (which is better than things were) is also a massive giveaway to insurance companies. The only solutions THEY can come up with are ones that allow massive corporations to continue to rampage through our lives. SO there has to be a revolution of the minds of all of us to change this beast. We aren't looking at the problem right. But here's the part where I'll talk you off the ledge. People ARE waking up. People are tired of this rancid duopoly. People are more informed than ever before - which is still NOT NEARLY enough. But if the internet remains free, we could get to a better place.
SFCB: A lot has been made about getting money out of politics, and while I agree that that is probably the biggest and most important issue that we are facing, I don't see how this is going to work.
The Young Turks has Wolf-Pac and they are calling for a constitutional amendment. As I said, though, that sounds great and all, and I know they've had some success, but why should I, or anyone else out there, believe that the Koch Brothers and all these other shady ass billionaires who have more money than God, are gonna sit back and allow that to ultimately succeed?
What am I missing here?
LEE CAMP: I'm not sure you're missing anything. I support getting money out of politics but it is tough to see how it can be achieved. That being said, I'd rather go down swinging than go quietly. And some changes can be made on the local level. I think we should also work on changing our city or state and then take all the good ideas and make them spread nationally.
SFCB: Lee Camp, thank you for your time today answering our questions. Before you go, tell us about any of your upcoming shows, or projects you have going right now.
LEE CAMP: I have live shows all the time - such as shows coming up in Vancouver at the Yuk Yuks Comedy Club on Nov 21 & 22. I of course have my TV show every Friday night at 8pm on RT America. You can watch it all online at the Official Redacted Tonight Youtube Channel. I also have a very active Facebook page that you can interact with me at. And finally everything else is at LeeCamp.net. Thanks!!